Symposium Spring 2019 - Cosmos

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Copyrights remain with the artists and authors. The responsibility for the content in this publication remains with the artists and authors. The content does not reflect the opinions of the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council (AHSC) or the University Students’ Council (USC). The AHSC and USC assume no liability for any errors, inaccuracies, or omissions contained in this publication. Cover Art by: Sofia Berger


Symposium Cosmos VOLUME 6



Copyrights remain with the artists and authors. The responsibility for the content in this publication remains with the artists and authors. The content does not reflect the opinions of the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council (AHSC) or the University Students’ Council (USC). The AHSC and USC assume no liability for any errors, inaccuracies, or omissions contained in this publication.

LET TER FROM THE EDITOR “There was a star riding through clouds one night, and I said to the star, ‘Consume me’.” And so I come full circle in this business, returning once more to The Waves to help me write my last Editor-in-Chief ’s notes for the Arts & Humanities Students’ Council’s 2018-19 Publications. Cosmos seems to be the logical conclusion to last semester’s Odyssey: a quest undertaken with purpose and dissolved by abstraction, a question answered with a question, a journey ended in infinitude. Some words of wisdom from Jeanette Winterson: “It takes much longer to leave the psychic place than the physical place.” These works, these causes and forces of cosmos, are bits and pieces of psychic impressions that have journeyed from the minds and hearts of their authors to this print publication and, now, to you. These pieces find their being in diverse clusters of matter. They borrow life from vast timescales, geologic spheres, emotional vistas, and geographical locations. They measure us as human subjects up against the chaotic farce of the universe. They make us question our essence, our spiritual and material dimensionality, and the biological, sociocultural, and metaphysical fibre of our being. I wish to end these notes with personal thanks. Woolf writes, “When I cannot see words curling like rings of smoke round me I am in darkness—I am nothing.” This is how writing feels to me. I began my journey at this university as a frightened, anxious, trembling, eighteen-year-old political science student and am ending it as a confident and collected liberal arts major, arms wide, heart and mind wide open, embracing the void left in my path by the universe. This faculty and its professors, students, and peers have changed my world indefinitely. I know I am not alone in this. These spaces of play, of art and music and literature, are not only essential but sacred. So I give thanks, once more, to the Arts & Humanities Students’ Council, and to the Publications Team, for creating and upholding them. And now… onwards, I suppose. Camille Intson Publications Editor-in-Chief

W HAT W E ’ R E A B O U T Symposium is made of a collection of short stories, creative nonfiction, and poetry that are original, inventive, well-written, and allow for a variety of personal interpretations. Symposium accepts creative work from any Arts and Humanities undergraduate student within the University of Western Ontario.

Symposium is published bi-annually by the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council of the University of Western Ontario. Semicolon is generously funded by the Arts and Humanities Student Donation Fund. The Publications Team would like to thank the Donation Fund Committee, the students who submitted their creative works, and the rest of the Publications Committee who volunteered for the creative review board. To view previous editions or for more information about Symposium, please contact the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council in Room 2135 in University College. SPECIAL THANKS TO THE PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE: Editor-in-Chief VP Communications Academic Managing Editor Creative Managing Editor Copy Editor Layout Editor

Camille Intson Alicia Johnson Roshana Ghaedi Aislyn Higgins James Gagnon Megan Levine

Table of Contents 1 Patchwork by Lela Burt 3 the produce aisle by Alexis Nicole 4 Delayed Education by Alina Kleinsasser 4 On The Airplane by Akshi Chadha 5

Mother’s Songs by Zaenab Ojoawo

7 How to Forget a Name by Akshi Chadha 8 Indeed, a Brilliant Child! by David Matheson 9 The Destroyed Sandcastle by Grace Campbell 11 (qa)in-at [universe] by Anaa Gulzar 13 Carnivorous Time by Lela Burt

14 Not In India by Augustine Mendes 15 promotional material for onion and cheese sandwiches: it turns out they’re very cheap and also interstellar by Jennifer Hillhouse 17 In Which I Try To Hit On My Man With Space Talk by Danielle Solo 18 OPEN / Night waitress / 2 am Pie by Hannah Wilcox 19 My body by Zaenab Ojoawo 21 Strawberries in the Highlands by Grace Campbell 23 Perpetual Motion by Lela Burt 24 The Man in the Moon by Danielle Solo 25 Custard by Megan Whitehouse 30 Credence by Chehalis Newbound

Patchwork Lela Burt I am a seamstress of stories. I sew together memories and create patchwork quilts that read like fairy tales. Thoughts become threads holding the patches in place. They ride on backs of needles punctuating moments that once seemed complete. Dandelions smeared like butter on childhood chins And our laughing toes tangled between blades of grass. A seven year old summer of hatching monarchs Stitched to the frayed edges of Claire’s fear of hair cuts. Fistfuls of dead ends dropped on the front porch Follows the doorbell and a frantic inquiry for tape. An at home piano lesson twenty minutes past the hour. Pent up tears of frustration induced by sight reading and Ms. Green at my right, juxtaposes my first espresso Shared by misfit friends. An inexperienced shot of edgeless bitterness, cut by too little cane sugar and Washed clean by water and Lanciano in July. Church bells sounding in the darkness between bedsheets Audibly marking minutes before I could tell time. “Monday, March twenty sixth, eighteen-twenty seven” Beethoven Lives Upstairs touches the spaces between conversation On a river island bench before lunch. Two trembling people Unacquainted and uncovering their remarkably mirrored past. In the back seat, on the way home from hockey practice, my phone rings on Springbank drive in a blizzard, Milly’s Overwhelmed panic at the end meets a high school field trip Seated on tree roots, bark leaving its impression on my spine. Alone I force myself to not be afraid of night’s blindness, As rain begins to cascade over crowns in the distance. A sickening interrogation in the back room of the library Muted by misunderstanding, my wrist a piece of evidence 1

For my mother’s tears contrasting an outdoor jewel heist Ditching our bikes as we escape from imaginary police, On the run, rising above the impenetrable fog that fills the school yard bowl. Immersed in improvised euphoric play. I continue to quilt the fibres of my imagination and fabricated history. Laid out on the floor my memories discuss Their joint linage As I contemplate my unfinished project.

The Reach Caitlyn DubĂŠ 2

the produce aisle Alexis Nicole the grocery list was where I had left it pinned to the cork board beside the stove its edges curled from drops of splattered oil how are we going to navigate the produce he said I squinted remembering the contents of the fridge drawer full of mottled green apples a half-eaten carton of strawberries past expiration and a few lemons withered like cabbage skin we could get oranges he said and picked up three, slightly squishy before leading me past the rutabaga and asparagus.


Delayed Education Alina Kleinsasser Took the scenic route to school. Found when I got there that no One else could even get into a bar Without a fake. Sometimes I feel Like at this age a few years Make all the difference. That Whatever I accomplish, it’s only Because everyone else has more Sand in the top of their hourglass.

On The Airplane Akshi Chadha I study the safety manuals—there is always a system to sorcery. They say the yellow oxygen mask will come when the oxygen does not and I should put mine on first before I help the arm-rest invader. The green signs of the emergency exits will be farthest from where I sit; we should be careful not to pull too hard at our lifejackets. They don’t say that somehow everyone on board is cloaked in grey, and how all drinking water turns into wine on airplanes. Or it is only when the plane rattles that the pilot will announce we’re the safest. They don’t say there’s a reason the tiny TV mostly has old comedies and the window is just a hoax as we fly at night over some blinking city. Or that everyone simply falls asleep as soon as they dim the lights. Yet I couldn’t be more awake as I hear my heartbeat inside my plugged ears and glance at apocalypse before I land in a new world. 4

Mother’s Songs Zaenab Ojoawo My mother sings her loneliness to the night sky, In a language my tongue is forgetting. My mother misses home. She tells me of the busy marketplace where a shiny coin could be exchanged For an afternoon of laughter. My mother teaches me the songs her mother taught her, There are no songs like these in this country, Songs that teach the tongue how hungry the stomach is, Teach the stomach the taste of sweetness. My mother grew up in a home built on the carefully balanced lies that kept her parents’ marriage together, she learned endurance. Betrayal is an inheritance passed down in my family. Our men die so young that to have one raise a family with you is already a miracle. When my mother speaks of home, She does not remember the burning in the silence, Only the smell of incense, She teaches me to braid my hair and smoke it over sticks of sage, “To hide the scent of empty” she says. My mother is an empty shell trying to fill herself with anything that can take the shape of the man who left her. Sometimes, women give birth to their pain instead of children, I am my mother’s. When she looks into my face, all she sees is the smile of the man Who taught her what leaving was. Stay is such a tender word. We carry who stays in our blood forever. My lies smell of my father. Before he was the man my mother loved He was a scientist. My father could logic love into a reasonable compartment, Put it away for a while. Pack it into a box, name it Zaenab. Name it beauty. My name means the apple of his eye.


My name means raised by love. My name means answer to a prayer. My name means born to grace. My name means Grace, my mother is the fall, my father never learned how to catch. My mother sings me lullabies like eulogies, made me poet. My mother sings memories like love songs, made me homesick. My mother sings of home in a dying language, made me flowers on a grave. The night carries my mother’s voice to me no matter how far away from her I am, I sing back to her, in my breaking voice, in my dying tongue, I sing back to her. I’m singing for home.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Movie Poster Evan Attard 6

How to Forget a Name Akshi Chadha



Take a pencil. Scratch the name off from the back of your journal.


Do this until there is a hole in the paper as big as the entryway to oblivion.


Write the name on a wall. Paint over the name. Sniff the paint.


Let the fiery fumes annihilate all memory-inducing scents.


Now this one’s important: gather that wicked paper trail.


Letters, pictures, tickets, notes, receipts—recycle all of it.


If the sunset reminds you of that name, always wear your Ray Bans after five.


Remind yourself that the solar system is just one of many lies.


To stop the nightmares, place a lavender sprig under your pillow.


Get new silk sheets. Or a new home. Maybe just skip on sleep for some time.


If it comes to it, make a voodoo doll of yourself (see How to Make Voodoo Dolls).


Stick a needle into its prefrontal cortex (see How to Create Brain Lesions).


If by some other voodoo that fails, just hold on to the name like an expired coupon.


Hold on to it, until you lose it somewhere in your purposeful-waste drawer.

Indeed, a Brilliant Child! David Matheson There was a very bright, in fact brilliant child, an angry child, very young, who in a rage was smacking, chomping, hurling and seething at their once-fluffy, ragged blue teddy bear. Each vociferous blow to the bear made the child angrier, and each succeeding blow grew more violent. ‘Bear, if you are hurt why don’t you cry! If you are in pain why don’t you resist! If you are angry why don’t you hate me! Are you not angry!’ And with those words the child’s fury only grew, tears welled in their eyes, and a pain seeped into their being. With rebellious intent the child hurled the bear, mightily, into the wall, and as the sound of its marble eye screeched and scratched across the drywall piercing the child’s mind, they collapsed to the floor, wailing in agony, convulsing, gagging. The child was brilliant. Indeed, a brilliant child!


The Destroyed Sandcastle Grace Campbell

In my favourite photograph my little sister Lucy sits on the beach at 3 years old. Her chubby hands are buried in the sand and she wears my old huge flowery sunglasses. She’s dry and I forget if it’s because the water was too cold to swim in that day or if it was because she didn’t like getting her face wet, but either way it means her messy curls look almost blond in the overcast afternoon light. I know I was 17 when this photo was taken because on the back is scribbled, Lucy 2013. In the years that followed this photograph anterograde amnesia would begin to rob me of my memories. While writing this, I have to call my father, ask where we were when this photo was taken, ask how long we were at this beach, ask why. He tells me we went to a cottage for a week, tells me I was defiant about going, as I was defiant about so many things back then. He tells me I shut myself in my room at that cottage for 3 days listening to Recovery by Eminem. This detail unlocks a memory for me: a sandcastle, a best friend. In a past that is no more than a handful of film prints and pinpricks of memory poking through a heavy fog, this afternoon is suddenly clear. My parents forced me to take Lucy down to the beach and when I got there—against my will—I started to have a nice time. She had finally reached the age where she stopped biting me and pulling my hair and instead declared that we were best friends. (To which I was relieved and secretly honoured to agree with). Until then I had been slightly afraid of her, she was a small and shocking thing, prone to loud wailing and throwing food across the room. But she would sometimes take my hand and smile and my eyes would burn. I loved her fiercely in spite of myself. The sun had just begun to come out but wasn’t yet bright enough for the film to get overexposed. After I finally put my camera down Lucy and I made a sandcastle. She quickly lost interest and waddled away to eat some watermelon as I was left to stubbornly finish the complex system of towers and moats. Lucy eventually wandered back to me and declared the castle as “Me and Gracie’s home!” She then proceeded to sit on it, turning it back into sand. Lucy was growing up and I was forgetting each of her birthdays. A careless doctor was prescribing me too much medication, burning away my past with chronic overdose. It’s remains are now locked away in photographs or old journal entries. But somehow, I kept this memory of a simple day, a pointless day, a nothing day. And how precious it is then, that this afternoons light and destroyed sandcastle is real, concrete, and alive. 9

I remember, I remember, I remember.

Inner World Rayne Cauchi


(qa)in-at [universe] Anaa Gulzar in a moment we are defined with a name, a soul, a piece of mind, a cry of confusion, a cry of joy, a body, a life. at the place we are the place we find this tiny universe we call our own the day’s skylight and the moon’s fortnight we see in awe at the age of five or fifty five-hundred, maybe in a moment a universe at our hands step away or step ahead from your birthright your kingdom your breath your moment at crossroads you’ll come across another universe asking to enter 11

the cosmos of your mind. they’ll ask. they won’t barge in and force the stars to shine they’ll wait for the light they’ll understand the dark as mysterious as my mind at the crossroads the universe awaits for the incounter of you and i. “(qa)in-at” or “qainat”: universe in Urdu


Carnivorous Time Lela Burt Time eats memories for breakfast It lurks in the coffee grounds Brewing black and reissuing the past manifesting in the crumbs on the table From the toast I couldn’t eat For lunch, time chews at thoughts And swallows my appetite for life whole Tearing a rip in my memory Slowly draining like sand Each grain that passes Is but waiting to be forgotten By dinner, depleted, Time sucks marrow from my bones Gnaws at the flesh between my ribs And drinks future vision from my eyes Its fingernails scraping my sternum Like fine bone china It licks me clean Darkness. In need of a midnight snack, Time graces the skin on my hips With a carving knife Begging for one small bite While beads of blood leak from the incision. It’s unfortunately unforgiving. Time: the insignificant signifier-In practice non-existent-Defines the edges of my humanity Separating me from external reality Like looking ahead in a rear-view mirror Uncontrollably propelling forward yet fixated on what’s left behind


Not In India Augustine Mendes My mother wrapped me in banyan leaves Blessed me with incense, kissed me with haldi She lulled me to sleep with her mother tongue My people wrapped a banyan tree Blessed her with tears, adorned her with haldi They lulled her to sleep with the colonizer’s tongue My mother told me we were leaving for another world We left our homeland in a qabrastan Somewhere a banyan tree weeps for me My people are enemy aliens in the new world White wolves want us in their qabrastan In the bathroom my mother weeps for me I am not a child of this new world I mask the smell of incense and haldi I scrub the brown off my skin until it is red I watch the fall of my old world Once they took over, all in the name of haldi The waters of the Indus forever stained red My mother told me to be a banyan tree A promise she made to me from the womb A nation built in the name of harmony A burnt stump where there used to be a banyan tree My village a set of roots in a mangled womb Enemy aliens do not get to share in harmony


promotional material for onion and cheese sandwiches: it turns out they’re very cheap and also interstellar Jennifer Hillhouse if you draw enough concentric circles you get a bisected birds eye view of an onion if you don’t believe me try it then cut open an onion and tell me that’s wrong then if you eat the onion with cheese on brown bread it tastes good then if you take that sandwich and bury it in the backyard in 6 months they’ll be nothing don’t walk around that spot though I’m not sure how onions work but it might grow an onion tree and you don’t want to accidentally stunt that you don’t want that on your hands trust me, the onions still talk about me and sometimes it’s downright untrue but hey, what can you do they’re small below ground plants and I’m a larger plant that walks we’re different, there’s bound to be a communication problem the common ground felt good under my shoe too as I walked to where I needed to be why would I regret progressing in favour of your feelings? match my ambition you dumb onions look at the sky and tell me what you see real estate? as if all you see is clouds because you’re always looking for rain me? I’m looking up and all I see is the weft ikat weaving that blends and stretches around the loom it’s stark and discerning and stuttering in and out of dye patterns it’s beautiful but also also hard to compare to anything - the ikat isn’t right 15

hard to conceptualize in a way that has less to do with me and more to do with that massive expanse of nothing-to-do-with-me I really only wanted to talk about weaving I have no idea what the sky represents but it’s exciting much better than looking down at cut up onions

Baby Driver Movie Poster Evan Attard 16

In Which I Try To Hit On My Man With Space Talk Danielle Solo Hey boy, are you a gamma ray? Because you are out of this world. Okay, they can be produced on earth, but it’s a little less dramatic. It’s been said they are produced by the hottest and most energetic objects in the universe, but I didn’t mean to call your parents sexy. Kill me now. Of course if you were a gamma ray, that shouldn’t be too painful. It would be sudden. After all, gamma rays have greater energy and penetrating power than other kinds of rays {you know I’m talking about that dick}. When researching for this poem, I read that they are a part of a process called pair annihilation? I don’t know what that means, but imagine me wiggling my eyebrows suggestively. But in all seriousness, gamma rays cannot be reflected in mirrors, just like your beauty, nor can they be captured. So. I don’t expect someone on the upper end of the {electromagnetic} spectrum to stick around, but believe my cheesy ass when I say that you’re just like a gamma ray--your detection is rare but when you happen you are the brightest thing to shine in the universe.


OPEN / Night waitress / 2 am Pie Hannah Wilcox Red vinyl stretched into the dark – jeans catch along the cracks of the menu cover, frayed cotton jacket draping the metal hook COFFEE FREE WITH PURCHASE OF PIE, “slice of –” “lemon meringue,” she interrupted. “Yes, please, hold the coffee.” They smiled at each other, notebook returned, into her apron pocket slipped the menu between the ketchup and mustard. Burnt coffee hangs in the air, swirling ice cubes tap the red plastic COLA cup, stirred by the straw. Tines skate along the plate, catching the last bite of lemon flavour savored by the tongue, coins litter the table.


My body Zaenab Ojoawo My body is a fault line. It is the border between two warring countries, born from a long dead love. My body is a memory, a history, an inheritance. The passing down of disappointment and leaving. My body is a magic trick. The disappearing act of a home that should have been safe. My body is grandma’s hands braiding flowers into my hair. My body is the Atlantic, my body is an ocean. My body is distance between forgiveness and regret. My body is a body of water and my love is a boat. My body is a mouth at war with its own language. My body is lost in translation. No Rosetta Stone can bridge the gap between what it is and what I am. My father named me treasure. My father named me possession. My father named me precious. My father named me lost. Tonight, love is my father’s voice whispering my name. Love, is the sound of slamming doors and sobbing goodbyes and one more man lying to me with the words “I love you”. Tonight, my body is open and daring the world to give me what I have not lost, A name. Tonight my body is a house and love is home. Tonight my body is music. Tonight my body is rhythm. Tonight my body dances in the arms of a man who names me beautiful. The first man to use the name my father left behind. Tonight love names me beautiful. Tonight my body is a fire, tonight love is the match. Tonight they burn away every scar left from careless fingers and clumsy words. Tonight my body is the shallow grave where we bury the memories of men who should have loved us. Tonight my body is mother’s tears. Washing clean the mud left by the dirty boots of those who I should never have let walk all over me. Tonight, my body is a prayer. Tonight my prayer is a song. Tonight my God is an endless sky and the moon named me love. Tonight my God is love. Tonight my body is the words to a song that has no translation. 19

Translation named my body missing, named my love lost, named my home hungry. Named my memory empty. Tonight my body is feast and love is the hunger. My lover is thirsty. He drinks my body like he was desert raised and I am an oasis. My lover is thirsty. He sips my lips like his mother’s language lives on them. My lover is thirsty. My body is a body of water. Tonight my love is drowning.

Hope Preserved Caitlyn DubĂŠ 20

Strawberries in the Highlands Grace Campbell

Alanna and I always went for picnics in the Highlands. Every Saturday in the years that followed our emigration from Canada we would pack up the car and head north-west. Alanna would drive, because I still didn’t know how, and we would roll down the windows even when it was spitting rain. We’d sing Frightened Rabbit and Iron & Wine at the top of our lungs, even though most of their music is sad. Because it reminded us of being 16 when our adventures were just dreams and our parents lived upstairs. It’s difficult to imagine something being simultaneously beautiful and nausea inducing, unless you’ve driven in Scotland. You are surrounded by trees, sheep and giant ginger cows grazing on top of mountains, and the entire world is green. Snaking up the breathtaking roads made me hurl more than once, but the longer we lived there the stronger my weak stomach grew. Eventually the time would come when all of the roads had ended, and we would have to walk on foot. We’d go squishing along in our wellie boots with our basket full of cheese and strawberries. Usually the clouds would take pity on us and we’d manage to spend most of the afternoon dry. But we learned to take only second-hand books, so if the pages got wet and crinkled we wouldn’t feel like we ruined anything. We’d lay on the blankets and Alanna would draw pixies and I’d write stupid haikus, and she’d drink all of the iced tea and I’d polish off the shortbread and then we’d cheers the last two strawberries. Somehow, I always ended up with the tiny seeds stuck in between my teeth and she didn’t. Sometimes we talked about our family (like when my little sister started sixth grade, or when her brother got into university, or when our gran broke her knee) but mostly we talked about books. Because books were something that you could pack in your suitcase when you flew home or flew away. We told fairytales and stories about magic, things that felt so real up there. We’d convince ourselves we were descended from the druids and dance barefoot in the grass. I’d pretend to be Maria Von Trapp and sing The Hills Are Alive because it never failed to make Alanna laugh. Sometimes it was hard being the only Campbells we knew in a country full of Campbells. So we would sit up there surrounded by our ancestors until it was hard to feel lonely. 21

But eventually the sky would change colour and Alanna would turn to me,

“Home?” And without saying yes or no, I’d begin to pack up. We’d get into our car and drive the winding carsick road back into town. Every now and then I’d realize I got strawberry juice on my blouse (or skirt, or sweater). Red that stayed red, no matter how much bleach I soaked it with. My parents were always better at getting stains out than me.


Perpetual Motion Lela Burt Lead and ink drag time with them, Tracing moments from those Left in the past, right Into abyss. Points hovering and breaking into silence Submitting pieces into history. Obliterating the now and Solidifying what was. Written voices revive Papyrus, parchment, and slate. Finishing the fragmented sentences Re introduces time into the narrative. Replotting points on timelines. We embrace chronological space like the Cosmos that separates stars. Light pooling in blank Timeless Space. .


The Man in the Moon Danielle Solo I cannot shake those gnawing winter nights our pale bones spread, untethered to the dying grass beneath us, thick and sticking, the sky above us cavernous and whole. I joked the moon was watching us a pasty, pupil-less goddess pockmarked, and unfortunately engraved by some man’s face. Some say there’s a burden on his back, but it depends from where you’re looking. Perhaps if I lay on my side again, I can draw a spine sloping in that leering frown, finding vertebrae marked by the subtle grit of teeth.


Custard Megan Whitehouse

The librarian was a small woman of around seventy years.

She worked at the library for many years and her routine was as good as set in stone. She usually spent her afternoons reading and on this particular afternoon she was working her way through The Fault in our Stars, by a young man named John Green. It was a book she had heard her granddaughter talking passionately about the last time she saw her. As she was reading, she realized that that was almost a year ago now. She was fully immersed in the book, until a small yellow hat that had appeared at her desk, broke her concentration. She peered over her glasses to inspect the hat and saw that underneath it was a child. A little girl no older than eight was staring at her.

“Hello, dear. Can I help you with anything?”

“Yes, please. I’m looking for a book,” the girl replied politely.

“Well, I think you’ve come to the right place,” she chuckled. “What sort of book are you looking for?”

“I’m looking for a book about custard.”

“Ah, I see,” said the old woman. “Well, off the top of my head, I can’t think of any books just about custard. Are you looking to do some cooking? I can show you some cookbooks if you’d like?”

“No, thank you, I just want to learn about custard,” the little girl answered.

She thought for a moment to herself about why on earth this child was so interested in such a specific form of dessert, before deciding that her duty was as a librarian, and it was now her task to find a book about custard. She typed “custard” into the database on her computer but found nothing. She tried “dessert,” “pudding,” even “tapioca,” but no luck. “I’m so sorry, dear. I can’t seem to find what you’re looking for,” she said, disappointedly, “I can try to order a book for you about custard and it will be here next week most likely,” she offered to the little face in front of her. 25

“Thank you, that would be wonderful. I’ll be back next week,” she replied, before running towards a tall woman browsing the crime novels who had the same auburn hair as the girl. A week later, after an afternoon of browsing, the book had finally arrived, S. C. Solomon’s Guide to Custard, Custard: A History. She had browsed the library database for an entire afternoon but to no avail, so instead she turned her head to Amazon to purchase the book for the girl. It had been a long time since she had been able to give a book as a present. Since her son’s divorce, her granddaughter moved with her mother to Vermont. She only saw her every other Christmas now. The old woman felt a strong sense of pride as she unwrapped the book and set it aside for the girl. She had even remembered to bring in a small red ribbon to tie around the book. She waited all day with the book next to her on the desk. But the girl never arrived. Many weeks later, as she was reading The Perks of Being A Wallflower, another book her granddaughter had spoken excitedly about last Christmas, she noticed the little yellow hat again. She looked up eagerly to see the little girl in front of her.

“Why, hello dear.”

“Hello, again,” she responded, smiling up at the old woman.

“I have your book,” she said, rustling among her things to find it.

“Thank you. But I don’t think I’ll need it anymore.”

“Ah. Well, that’s a shame. But why is that?”

“Well, because Mom and Dad aren’t together anymore so it doesn’t matter,” she said, looking down at her feet.

“I’m confused. Would you mind telling me a bit more?”

“Mom and Dad have been arguing over custard. They’ve been arguing about it for a long time, and I thought ‘What a strange thing to argue about.’ I guessed there must be more to the story. So I thought if I did some reading and knew some more about custard, then I might be able to help.”

She stopped and looked up at the old woman. “I know it’s silly.” 26

“I don’t think it’s silly at all. I think it’s very wise of you.”

“I think they were arguing over how custard-y things were. They kept shouting about it. I didn’t really understand. But it doesn’t matter now because they don’t live together anymore. Dad moved out. I spend weekends with him now,” she pointed to a tall man looking at travel guides. “I think I understand. But you know, even though you don’t need it anymore you can still keep the book. Add it to your book collection.” She handed her the book.

“I don’t have a book collection.”

“Well, now you can start one, and because you have two houses, you can have two collections,” she said warmly. “And if you’re going to have two collections then you need two books.” She picked up a copy of Matilda by Roald Dahl that was resting on the counter, having been returned earlier that day, and handed it to the child. “Don’t tell anybody I gave you that.”

“Thank you, I won’t.”

The girl skipped towards her father, as the librarian sat back in her chair and smiled. She thought to herself for a moment about the little girl before picking up her phone and sending a message to her granddaughter.

I’m reading that wallflower book you told me about last Christmas! I’m really enjoying it. Hope you’re well my love and I hope school isn’t too difficult. Enjoy your Christmas break, looking forward to seeing you sometime soon. All my love, Grandma xxx

It joined the long list of green messages that didn’t yet have a reply but she didn’t mind. Her granddaughter would reply when she had time.


Drive Movie Poster Evan Attard


Objects of Relation Caitlyn DubĂŠ


Credence Chehalis Newbound At the peak of the prosthetic mountain my star-nosed mole claws burrow into holds and a butterfly pin punctures my left hip. At three stories up there’s only you,

A seagull drops an oyster onto rocks to better access the sweet meat. Gravity sits cross legged at the base counting down the seconds until my muscles expire.

staring at a plastic-encased bicycle gear, mouth slurping up your quarter inch metal umbilical cord. “Just let go and it’ll lower you down.” Except it’s a seat belt and I’m a rock in a web. How will it know that I’m its ward if it doesn’t have any eyes?